Related post: Duong Lam ancient village - a truly authentic Vietnam
From past to present, the communal house is a familiar image to each Vietnamese people, where takes place every community activities, witnesses the changes in the social life of the villages through the centuries. Therefore, communal house has the imprint of traditional culture with a typical Vietnamese traditional architecture and sculpture.
In XVIII century, Vietnam had about 11800 villages, each of them have different communal house, pagoda and temple system with a variety number of statues and décor items.
In Vietnamese, normally pagoda and communal house is goes together, in fact each of them has different function; Pagoda is the place to worship Buddha, therefore the architecture has the influence from Chinese and Indian architecture. But the communal house is the typical culture of Vietnam with no hybrid from other culture. Communal house is the place to worship the tutelary and hold the village’s events.
Communal house shows the respect of Vietnamese people to the national heroes, who protects the peace for the country. Not only the heroes, according to ancient belief, Vietnamese people also worship Mountain god, Ocean god, Water god… this belief becomes the faith, the hope for the people, more over it becomes a beautiful culture of Vietnamese people.
Communal house is one of the most important constructions of the village, therefore the place to build the communal house are chosen carefully. According to folk conception, if the communal house is built in a good place, the villagers will have a good life. Communal house is the place to welcome all the Vietnamese people without any distinction.
The ancient communal house of Vietnam has the word “一” shape. This type of architecture has only one row of house built horizontally. In the center of the communal house also the gravest part is the altar. The elder of the village usually come here to discuss the village’s events. The younger communal house has the word “丁” or the word “三” shape with two or three row of house built horizontally. They are effected from Chinese construction.
A typical feature of Vietnamese communal house is the curved roof. Curved roof is can be found in the architecture construction of many countries, especially is in Asia. But the Curved roof of Vietnamese communal house is can not be found in any where else, even China, Japan or Thailand. Top edge of the roof is often decorated by long strip with embossing or perforation pattern. At the center of the roof edge is decorated by dragons flanking a moon or dragons flanking sun. Different from western churches with the high bell tower, the communal houses in Vietnam were built not high, suitable with Vietnamese people, this feature makes the communal house looks steadiness also creates a close feeling for the local people. As the Confucianism conception, in front of the communal house usually has a small lake or pond symbolized for the harmony between Yin and Yang. The lake is decorated by Lotus or Water Lily which very popular in the Vietnam countryside. The front yard of the communal house is the giant Banyan tree, shading to the roof and the yard. The combination from the red of the brick, the brown of moss, the green of Banyan tree, the pond - a mirror reflected all the things, makes a beautiful, colorful picture of a peaceful and full of lyrical village.
Communal house is a beauty of traditional architecture, and village community culture is a part of Vietnam traditional culture. Many communal house now being a beautiful place for domestic and foreign tourist visit and research as Mong Phu communal house at Duong Lam ancient village.